X-Message-Number: 22785
From: "Ben Best" <>
Subject: Boca Raton Planning & Zoning Board Hearing, 6-Nov-2003
Date: Mon,  3 Nov 2003 20:32:44 -0800

   Last evening -- November 6, 2003 at 6:30pm -- there 
was a hearing by the Planning & Zoning Board at Boca
Raton (Florida) City Hall. The first item on the agenda
was the application for zoning approval by Suspended
Animation, Inc. Although the final decision on the
zoning application is made by City Council (which 
meets in January), the recommendation of the P&Z 
Board can be a significant input in Council's 
decision. With P&Z Board approval, the Council would
be almost certain to approve.

   Within the last week (particularly) Suspended
Animation has made an ardent appeal to cryonicists
to attend the P&Z Board hearing. Appeals were 
also made to e-mail the Council members and the
Mayor. The latter appeal may have created some
confusion. The Mayor's auto-responder mentioned
the Council meeting in January -- and some 
cryonicists who might have attended the P&Z 
Board meeting got the mistaken impression that
it had been postponed until January. 

   At 6pm those attending the P&Z Board meeting 
were allowed to enter the City Hall Building. 
Everyone entering was required to show photo ID
and to walk through a metal-detector. Outside, 
about 15 animal-rights activists stood on the 
street-corner chanting to motorists and waving
signs & banners. Reporters from Channel 5
(http://www.TCPalm.com) and News 12 covered the
events outside as well as in the hearing. 

   Anyone in attendence in the courtroom was given
the privilege of making a brief testimony following
the introductory briefings. The Chairman of the 
P&Z Board stressed that repetition would not be 
welcome and further attempted to intimidate 
would-be testifiers by saying they would be 
subject to cross-examination (which never 

   The first briefing was by a P&Z staffer who 
described the zoning of the South Congress 
Industrial Center (SCIC), which is zoned as M-3. 
She said that mortuary use is not permitted in an
M-3 zone and that Suspended Animation (SA) does not
qualify for the Conditional Use petition. She then
named the activities qualifying for Conditional
Use, which included such things as bottling, 
TV repair, heliports -- and laboratory/industrial
research & testing. 

   The SA lawyer then argued that SA is not a
mortuary, but is a research organization. SA
President Dave Shumaker then gave a rapid-fire 
presentation describing the scientific credentials
of his staff & consultants as well as a scientific
justification for cryonics research -- stressing
that any animals used would be treated humanely.
The P&Z Board Chairman interjected to ask "if 
cryonics works, what will we do with all the people?"
-- adding a disclaimer that his own question is 
irrelevant to the decision. Mr. Shumaker said that
Man is adaptable and that additional population 
could be handled. 

   Surprisingly, about 10 people testified in 
support of SA, whereas only 4 animal rights 
activists testified against (and one of the 4 was
a written briefing). Bill Faloon testified as a
licensed Florida mortician (stating his license
number) testifying categorically that cryonics is
completely unlike what a mortician does. One of the
animal rights testimonies was an emotional appeal
by a Boca Raton woman, but the other two opposition
testimonies strove to cite scientific authorities
who supported the claim that cryonics is crackpot
pseudo-science and that SA would be conducting
frivolous & unnecessary experiments which would
cruelly torture animals as part of a scheme to 
dupe desperate people with false promises in a 
profit-making scam. 

  I surprised myself by making a mostly emotional
testimony. I said that I have been interested in
cryonics most of my life and that I wear a bracelet
that says I am donating my body to cryonics 
research. I said that I do not believe immortality
is possible, but that cryonics has the possibility
to save & extend lives. I said that I view cryonics
as medicine and that if they prohibit cryonics out
of concern for overpopulation, they should also 
prohibit heart transplant, kidney transplant and
all medical research. I noted that 21st Century
Medicine had cryopreserved rabbit kidneys at -50oC
and successfully transplanted the kidneys into 
the rabbits with complete recovery. I said that 
I hope that cryonics can save my life, but if it
does not I hope that my donation to research may
help the next person (comparable to an AIDS victim
subject to an experimental treatment). I said that
I have many friends who have made similar 
arrangements as well as friends already frozen. I
said that I care about animals, but that I also 
care about my friends. I was becoming so emotional
that I felt I should end on that note. 

   After the testimonies the P&Z Board basically
said that the testimonies had all been irrelevant.
The staffer in the initial briefing had 
established that a mortuary is unsuitable for M-3
zoning and that SA clearly does not qualify for
the Conditional Use petition. All 6 P&Z Board
members agreed unanimously to deny SA the 
Conditional Use petition. The hearing was then
recessed and most people left. I heard three of
the P&Z Board members chatting & laughing 
between themselves about what great entertainment
the proceedings had been. 

   It is possible that when Council meets in 
January that it will overrule the Planning & 
Zoning Board, and approve the Conditional Use
petition that Suspended Animation has made.

                 -- Ben Best 

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